Could not find `avx` in `x86`

Let’s start this article with an error message right off the bat:1

~> cargo install ripgrep --features 'avx-accel simd-accel'
    Updating registry `https://github.com/rust-lang/crates.io-index`
  Installing ripgrep v0.9.0
…
error[E0432]: unresolved import `simd::x86::avx`
  --> /home/mqudsi/.cargo/registry/src/github.com-1ecc6299db9ec823/bytecount-0.3.2/src/lib.rs:49:16
   |
49 | use simd::x86::avx::{LowHigh128, u8x32};
   |                ^^^ Could not find `avx` in `x86`
error: aborting due to previous error
For more information about this error, try `rustc --explain E0432`.
error: Could not compile `bytecount`.

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  1. I’m primarily blogging this as I’ve run into – and worked around – this error several times before running into it again and not being able to remember how I resolved this problem the last time around. 

PrettySize for rust

We’ve just published a rust port of our PrettySize.NET library, now available via cargo and github. Like its .NET predecessor, PrettySize-rs aims to provide a comprehensive API for dealing with file sizes, covering both manipulation and human-readable formatting.

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Modern C++ isn’t memory safe, either

A recurring theme in just about all discussions revolving around the comparison of programming languages – apart from using the wrong tool for the job, adamantly pushing a language objectively/demonstrably inferior at x out of blind loyalty, bashing on languages you’ve never used or studied simply because you’ve seen firsthand how well received such comments can be, and worse – is acting off of stale information that no longer necessarily holds true.

At NeoSmart Technologies, we don’t just have one dog in the race; our software is developed in a multitude of languages, ranging from C/C++ to both desktop/web C#/ASP.NET, rust, [JS|TypeScript]/HTML/[LESS|CSS], (ba)sh scripting, and more.1 So it’s always interesting to observe these discussions (sometimes up close and personal and sometimes disinterestedly from afar) and observe what arguments remain standing once the dust has settled and the troops have gone home for the day.

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  1. Gasp, yes, even PHP! 

iMessage for Windows

A year and a half ago, I heeded the growing warning signs that indicated the looming demise of macOS, née OS X, as a platform for developer and true computer enthusiasts, and set about trying to find a new ecosystem. Luckily, this was around the same time that updates to Windows 10 combined with the the continued awesomeness of WSL,1 made it a viable option for reconsideration.

While Windows had always remained my primary development platform of choice due to the nature of my work, there were various apps that I’d become accustomed to using and had to seek out alternatives for, chief of which was iMessage. As someone that has never embraced the mobile craze, I sorely missed the ability of texting (or “iMessaging”) from my PC, and came to absolutely despise having to drag my phone out of my pocket and text from its cramped display, constantly fighting autoincorrect and embarrassing myself with typos and misspellings. I tried switching to alternative platforms, including WhatsApp, Skype, and FB Messenger; but nothing came close to matching the pure simplicity and sheer genius of iMessage’s “SMS backwards-compatibility” approach that upgrades iPhone-to-iPhone communications to iMessage while transparently falling back to SMS or MMS where iMessage was not an option.

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  1. WSL is the Windows Subsystem for Linux, also known as “Bash on Ubuntu on Windows,” offers a native Linux-in-a-shell with nice (and growing) integration with Windows. Check it out! 

Converting a binary/blob guid column to text in SQL

Since we live in an imperfect world where we often have to trade ease-of-use for simplicity and abstractions for performance, while dealing with computer systems and standards you’ll often run into tasks that seem like they should be really obvious and simple only to later discover that in reality they lead down a rabbit hole. Such is the case anytime a developer comes into contact with the individual bits of a binary blob – and that can happen even when you least expect it.

The premise is simple: given a database powered by, for example, the extremely popular MySQL or SQLite RDBMS engines that do not offer “native” representation of UUIDs or GUIDs, database designers and systems programmers have a choice to make: do you store a GUID as a plaintext (VARCHAR or TEXT) and take the performance, memory, and storage hit that comes with it, or do you take off the gloves and dig out the BLOB column type in your DDL?

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Windows users vulnerable to Meltdown/Spectre until at least January 9, 2018

Security-conscious Windows users attempting to protect themselves against Meltdown and Spectre attacks in the wild are being met with a deceptive “Your device is up to date” message — but they’re not yet protected.

In the days following the disclosure of CPU cache attacks Meltdown and Spectre, hardware, kernel, and software developers have rushed to provide security updates for their respective devices and platforms in an (ongoing) effort to secure their users against the wide-ranging (and not yet fully understood/internalized) side-channel vulnerabilities disclosed a few days ago on the 3rd of January, 2018.

For those that aren’t up to date on these attacks – stop now, and read this excellent LWN article on Meltdown and Spectre; if you’re so inclined, you can even have a look at the original Google Project Zero article where it all started.1

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  1. While the latter is more technical in nature, programming-inclined readers in the audience may find it to actually be easier to grok with its more definite and concrete approach, vs the somewhat abstract nature of pretty much all the other coverage out there. 

Tahoma vs Verdana

Ask your favorite typophile about the difference between Arial and Helvetica, and you’re sure to regret it… unless you have a latent appreciation for the differences between font faces, the attention given to kerning and hinting, and more. But ask them what’s the difference between Tahoma and Verdana, and you might just be surprised by the ensuing silence. Yet, these are two of the most popular online fonts, and have aged significantly well considering they share corporate roots with Comic Sans and Arial.1 If any fonts ever deserved scrutiny and attention, it’s these two.

Here are two lines of text, one in each of the two fonts in question:

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  1. Just to name two fonts that designers love to hate. 

What happened to the sandy text editor?

The sandy text editor is an open source project from the team over at suckless.org, which make painfully minimal1 alternatives for popular tools and applications for unix-ish platforms.

But perhaps the tense being used here is wrong. For quite some time, sandy, suckless’ minimal vi(m) replacement, has been unavailable. The git repository is offline; the root cgit instance returning the following “No repositories found” message:

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  1. Perhaps best described as borderline masochist in their austerity and spartanism 

How to import any Linux command into your Windows 10 environment

At NeoSmart Technologies, we’re huge fans of the new Windows Subsystem for Linux,1 and have spent a lot of time trying to make the transition between the native Win32 subsystem and the Linux/WSL subsystem as seamless as possible.

For those of you that haven’t already seen it, we recommend reading our previous article Meet $, your new best friend for WSL for an introduction to WSL and $, our nifty helper utility that lets you directly run Linux commands in your Windows workflow. In brief, we developed $ (also known – though less affectionately – as RunInBash) to make it possible to run Linux utilities directly from within a Windows workflow, complete with arguments, stdinstdout, and stderr redirection, and more.

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  1. Yes, we refuse to call it by its ungodly “Bash on Ubuntu on Windows” moniker 

These two new iOS 11 features could save your life

We may not know for sure what it’s going to look like or what it will cost, but we do know that the new iPhone 8 – Apple’s 10 year iPhone anniversary edition – is on its way and it’ll be running iOS 11. And unlike the iPhone 8, iOS 11 has been available now for some time for beta testing and software development. There are a lot of changes – some good, some bad1 – but there are two new features that are especially important to be aware of given that they could – literally – save your life.

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  1. For example, because Apple couldn’t figure out how to get force touch working nicely on the new iPhone, they’ve chosen to deprecate force touch features across the OS, completely disabling the “force touch swipe from the edge of the screen to switch apps” after having completely rearchitectured the task switcher UX to specifically be built around this feature, rather than officially having a feature available on older gen iPhones but not on the latest and greatest.